Winnipeg police launch investigation
EDMONTON — An Edmonton-born and raised archbishop has taken a leave of absence amid an ongoing police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse dating back nearly three decades.
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim — who has worked in churches in the Edmonton area — requested a leave of absence from his position as the Canadian head of the Orthodox Church in America after Winnipeg police launched their investigation.
A statement posted Sunday on the website for the denomination — which has an estimated 700 parishes and other institutions in North America — confirmed Storheim’s leave.
“I have blessed the Church’s office for review of sexual misconduct allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities and to comply with the Orthodox Church in America’s policies and procedures to obtain the necessary information needed to bring about a proper resolution,” Metropolitan Jonah said in the statement.
While in Edmonton as an Anglican priest, Storheim spent two years at Christ Church in Edmonton and four years at St. Mary’s in Ponoka. He later converted to the Orthodox Church and became a monk.
According to SNAP Orthodox, an American advocacy group for people abuse survivors, the claims involve two men who allege the abuse happened in the early 1980s, when the pair visited Winnipeg as 10-year-old boys. Stroheim, born Kenneth Storheim, served as rector of Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg between December 1984 and June 1987, according to an online biography.
In a letter posted on SNAP’s website Tuesday, the organization said the abuse claims came to the attention of the church more than 20 years ago.
SNAP criticized church officials in the statement for what it said were delays in coming forward with complaints. Co-founder Cappy Larson said the organization forwarded information they’d received to Winnipeg police about three months ago.
Storheim has not been charged with any criminal offences in the case.
The biography says Storheim was ordained as a priest in New York in 1979 and later became a bishop in Edmonton in 1989. He became the archbishop of Ottawa and Canada in March 2007. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968.
The Orthodox Church in America is thought to have a membership over one million and is the 24th largest Christian denomination in North America.
Edmonton-born archbishop steps down after abuse allegations
Updated: Wed Oct. 06 2010 05:45:08
Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa, the head of the church’s Canadian archdiocese, is seen in this undated handout photo.
Updated: Wed Oct. 06 2010 11:01:54
An Edmonton-born Orthodox archbishop has stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct involving pre-teen boys.
Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa, who is the head of the church’s Canadian archdiocese, has been given a three-month leave as of last Friday.
The allegations stem from the period of December 1984 to June 1987 when the 64-year-old was a priest at a church in Winnipeg.
Church officials are not commenting on the case, but the co-founder of an organization dealing with survivors of abuse from priests says the allegations involve the molestation of two boys around 10-years-old. And the incidents are believed to have happened 25 years ago.
At this point, no charges have been laid. Winnipeg police are also not commenting on the case. Edmonton police say they aren’t aware of any complaints here.
Between 1981 and 1984, Seraphim has served as a priest in Alberta, North Carolina and London, Ont.
In 1987, he became an auxiliary bishop of Edmonton, and became ruling bishop of the archdiocese in 1990. Then in 2007, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop of Ottawa and Canada.
With files from Simon Ostler and CTV.ca News Staff
Church leader steps down amid abuse probe
By QMI Agency
05 October 2010
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim. (Supplied photo)
TORONTO – The Canadian archbishop of the Orthodox Church of America has stepped down for three months pending an investigation by Winnipeg police.
The New York headquarters of the church issued a release Sunday to say Archbishop Seraphim Storheim of Ottawa is being investigated after a complaint of misconduct from about 25 years ago.
“I have blessed the church’s office for review of sexual misconduct allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities … in order to obtain the necessary information needed to bring about a proper resolution,” Metropolitan Jonah said in a statement from the Orthodox Church of America (OCA).
A U.S. organization called SNAP, which says on its website it helps survivors of abuse in the Orthodox churches, said Storheim is accused of sexually assaulting two 10-year-old boys more than 20 years ago and the allegations resurfaced in the fall of 2008 when a clergyman filed a written report with the national church.
SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) co-founder Cappy Larson said the church knew about the allegations when they happened, but did nothing.
“It breaks our hearts that the OCA was so slow to act and that kids were needlessly kept at risk for months/years,” Larson said in a release on the website pokrov.org.
Fellow co-founder Melanie Jula Sakoda added she is “upset” by the use of the word “misconduct when, in fact, it’s childhood sexual abuse that is being alleged.”
Sakoda adds it’s “negligent and tragic” that Storheim was never suspended.
In a letter to the OCA in 2009, SNAP also noted Storheim sent a letter of apology to the two alleged victims.
Winnipeg police are investigating allegations against the archbishop, a police source confirmed. No charges have been laid.
Storheim was the rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg between 1984 and 1987, the time of the alleged assaults. He has also worked in Edmonton, London, Ont.; the U.S and Finland.
“He is being investigated. That is all I can say,” said Konstantin Afanasiev, a member of the Winnipeg church’s council.
Storheim was elected ruling bishop in 1990 and archbishop in 2007. He currently lives south of Ottawa.
In his own statement on the Canadian church’s website, Archdiocese.ca, Storheim does not explicitly say why he is taking a three-month leave of absence, but does say that when he went to see his doctor, “I was informed that this leave is rather overdue.”
“It is my intention, and hope, to maintain as much solitude and silence as possible,” he said.
Ottawa archbishop investigated on abuse allegations
Thestar.com (Toronto Star)
Published On Tue Oct 5 2010
Liem Vu Staff Reporter
A 64-year-old Canadian archbishop for the Orthodox Church in America has stepped down from his post in Ottawa following a complaint of sexual misconduct.
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim began a three-month leave last Friday, the church said.
Storheim had written a letter, which was posted on the archdiocese’s website last week, suggesting he was leaving because of health issues. But a subsequent statement from the church confirmed that Storheim was being investigated for a 30-year-old abuse allegation.
“I have blessed the Church’s Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities,” Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, a church official, said in a statement.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
Bishop Irénée Rochon of Quebec City has taken on the role of administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada following Storheim’s departure.
The Orthodox Church in America holds jurisdiction in both the U.S. and Canada.
Storheim was born in Edmonton in 1946 and was ordained into the priesthood on Nov. 21, 1979, according to a biography on the church’s website.
He became the Bishop of Edmonton in 1987 and in March 2007 obtained the status of Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada.
Storheim has travelled internationally on behalf of the Orthodox Church in America, but lives near Johnstown, Ont., just south of Ottawa.
With files from the Canadian Press